Gravity Rush Review — Female Superheroes Wear Tights

I mean you wouldn’t want their clothing to fly off whilst flying, would you? Well, unless you’re 90% of the human population.

  • With the upcoming sequel on the horizon to the point that the reviews from all the professionals who received early copies have already started coming out, I figure I’d better get out my own opinion of the first Gravity Rush before I get to trying out the sequel myself. So here you go.
  • Gravity Rush was originally a PS Vita exclusive that was re-released on the PS4 about a year ago, and tells the story of an amnesiac young girl named Kat as she takes up residence in the floating city of Heskville and ends up becoming its savior when monsters, mysteries, and military start hanging around for our heroine to drop-kick.
  • Thanks to a magic cat that always hangs around her, Kat can manipulate gravity in order to fly in whatever direction she chooses, allowing her to soar the skies, carry large objects, or land on an enemy from 10,000 feet without breaking her body. And she does it all whilst being cute and quirky to boot. Basically perfect Japanese superhero material in a country that still won’t let Ultraman go. But then again, the US still won’t stop making Superman movies, so it all balances out.

While it looks cool, there’s very little practical use in making Kat stand on a wall

  • First off, I want to point out that I really like how most of the game eschews cut scenes for comic book panels to convey what’s going on. It really fits the whole superhero vibe Gravity Rush goes for, although I wish there was an option to rewind panels because I accidentally skipped stuff plenty of times due to my confusion regarding whether the story had finished in a specific frame or not. Yes the “X” button usually appears on-screen to indicate when it’s time to move on, but I’ve been trained by many voiceless Japanese games and Western RPGs in general to fast-forward through dialogue, and that sort of stuff never goes away.
  • The actual world is pretty colorful too, although the environments can get a little same-y at times and there aren’t many NPCs lurking around. And whenever the NPCs were around, it was always always when I was about to gravity shift on the ground, causing them to hilariously fly to their dooms as I rocketed to an ice cream cart twenty feet away because walking there would have taken slightly longer. Thankfully you can kill as many NPCs as you like and the citizens will never turn on Kat once you’ve gained their trust, so admittedly, I didn’t try too hard to avoid accidents.
  • Gameplay-wise, Gravity Rush’s main feature is the ability to shift Kat’s center of gravity at will in any direction she chooses. As such, you can have the side of a building act as the floor, or you hurtle her towards the sun – although you won’t actually get there because the cat that gives you these powers can’t fuck up Newton’s laws forever.

It’s more falling than flying, but that doesn’t change how fun the experience is

  • For the most part, the gravity mechanic is used in a similar manner as all those Spiderman games in that it gives you great freedom of movement whilst putting some life in the bland combat. And believe me, it’s pretty bland. Kat pretty much just kicks and dodges like she’s auditioning for a Dark Souls game, and given how the Gravity Kick – a move where you shift gravity so hard that Kat’s foot lands in a character’s face – is pretty much the only way to hurt like 80% of the bad guys, it feels kind of token.
  • She can learn special moves that deal really good damage depending on a certain meter, but I literally used none of them unless it was by accident because the triangle button functions as both the “special move” and the “finishing move against bosses” button. And speaking of which, couldn’t you have assigned those two commands to different buttons? The window of opportunity to finish off a boss after it loses all its health is smaller than you’d expect, and I ended up performing five-second long animations against buildings and empty air because of it, causing the boss to regenerate enough health for one more round multiple times.
  • I had more fun with the gravity stuff when it was being used to travel, specifically when I was collecting crystals needed to level up my abilities or doing racing challenges. The learning curve is far from unreasonable, but there’s a certain amount of skill required in shifting between skating on ground and flying through the air in order to get a good time, and that really gets my gamer blood pumping.
  • Not so big on the mechanic where you pick up and throw things by applying zero gravity to them to the point that you might as well be using telekinesis. Could never really get the hang of it, so I ended up ignoring those challenges entirely.

Kat’s secret hideout is the most pristine-looking sewer I’ve ever seen in my life

  • Once you’ve leveled up your abilities enough, flying around the city at high speeds for long stretches of time is simply a joy to behold. There’s a limit to Kat’s gravity powers of course, but the bar usually charges quick enough so that you never fall down a bottomless pit at the very least – and even if you do, all it does is teleport you back to the last ledge you were on, Zelda-style.
  • The only big problem is that you can only fly in one direction at a time and you have to make Kat pause in midair in order to change direction, which interrupts the flow a bit. Yeah it makes sense from a mechanical standpoint, but it’s still pretty annoying, especially if you’re used to a flight simulator.
  • As for the actual narrative, it’s pretty traditional superhero stuff except with an anime aesthetic to it, in that it’s pretty much just a bunch of stuff happening and Kat has to be the one to resolve it. There’s no real overarching plot, nor is there any resolution to the millions of questions the game brings up regarding Kat’s origins and why the city became fragmented and where these monsters came from and all that stuff that’s probably going to be answered in the sequel. Things just happen when Kat decides to go to a mission spot one day whilst shopping for bread.
  • The monsters that make up the majority of the game’s enemies are black blobs with red weak spots called Nevi that range from cannon-fodder to that goddamn annoying flying swordfish who comes at you at 300 MPH and always travels in pairs. More than half the bosses are just upgraded Nevis while the remaining bosses are super villains who can use Nevi powers. Basically, aim for the red spot on all of the bad guys you encounter with your Gravity Kick and you’ll pretty much win as long as you pick up the occasional health lying around. And you’re not in a section where they take your gravity powers away.
  • There’s also a subplot regarding another gravity shifter named Raven who opposes Kat at every turn. And without spoiling anything in particular, it doesn’t really go anywhere interesting, and Raven will reappear in the sequel, though I’m not sure if she’ll be playable or not. Another plot point involving a sort of time skip disappointed in the same vein. The more I think of it, this game’s narrative really was all setup and no payoff, wasn’t it?

The PS4 version comes will all the Vita DLC, meaning I didn’t have to pay extra to dress Kat up as a maid

  • Basically, Gravity Rush is another one of those anime games that I would criticize the pants out of it was an actual anime or a superhero movie, but the amount of fun I have sending Kat sailing into the sun compensates for that a fair amount. And even by those standards, the game is pretty limited as far as open-world goes. The locations aren’t very big, there’s not much interaction with people, the variety of moves you can pull off is pretty limited, and the ones that are actually useful even moreso.
  • I’m definitely interested in seeing what the sequel has in store for us. Hopefully it includes a plot that actually gives closure.

Minor Quips

  • I’m sure Kat and Bayonetta would have some very interesting conversations if they ever met.
  • No real preference on Western or Eastern superheroes, but I think the anime ones have been more fun lately.

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